Reigning Melbourne Cup winner Dunaden is far from a sure thing to defend his title in the ‘race that stops a nation’ this spring carnival, the Melbourne Cup 2012 scheduled to light up Flemington Racecourse on Tuesday November 6.
The Mikel Delzangles-trained Dunaden travelled down under and in an amazing effort repeated the feat achieved by another French galloper from 12 months ago, Americain, in winning the Geelong Cup – Melbourne Cup double in 2011.
Dunaden’s win in the $6 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) was a heart-stopper for connections, the six-year-old Nicobar stallion announced the champion in the closest finish in the race’s 151-year history.
On the line Dunaden had just a hair to spare over the second-placed Red Cadeaux and it took officials over five minutes of intense deliberation to declare the Melbourne Cup winner for 2011.
In the popular ante-post Melbourne Cup odds at our preferred online bookie bookmaker.com.au, Dunaden is paying $31 to win the world’s richest handicap race for the second straight year.
But whether the ace stayer, who backed up from their gutsy Melbourne Cup win to take out the Group 1 Hong Kong Vase (2400m) at Sha Tin last December when ridden by Aussie hoop Craig Williams, will be back for the 2012 Melbourne Cup is up in the air.
Delzangles, under the guidance of owner Sheikh Fahad al Thani, is currently training Dunaden for Europe’s premier staying features during their summer.
Their main aim is then the iconic Group 1 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (2400m) taking place at Paris’ Longchamp Racecourse in early October.
With the 2012 Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe on the radar a return trip down under in time for the Melbourne Cup in Victoria would be all but impossible for Dunaden.
Sheikh Fahad al Thani’s bloodstock manager David Redvers revealed plans to get Dunaden racing and winning some of the shorter European features including the Group 1 Coronation Cup (2423m) at Epsom Downs in June.
“The Jockey Club Stakes at Newmarket in May is the plan, if he proves that he’s good enough to take on the best European horses at a mile and a half we’ll look at the Coronation Cup at Epsom over the Derby meeting,” he said.
“If he looks like he’s going to be capable of racing with the best horses at a mile and a half then we’d look at race like the Arc.”
Should the horse fail to impress over the 2400-metre races, then the staying features would be back on the agenda including the most famous two-mile race of them all, our own Melbourne Cup.
“If he doesn’t (measure up) then we’ll go back to staying.”
Since winning the Hong Kong Vase Dunaden has thrived according to Redvers who is quietly confident that they will emerge a genuine mile and a half champion to be reckoned with this time in.
“He’s a remarkable horse in that from five to six, he’s improved like you’d expect a horse from two to three,” he said.
“He’s absolutely blooming.
“The idea at the moment is that having gone back to a mile and a half so successfully in Hong Kong and because he’s showing plenty of speed we’ll keep him to a mile and a half.”
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